When I was in my early forties I was in a relationship with a lovely lady who was a doctor of internal medicine and who worked long hard shifts out in a hospital up in the mountains. Because her work was stressful and demanding she really had high standards for the times when she could get away from her daily routine. To leave the long hours and the stress behind she liked her vacations to be well organized, interesting and enhanced with good local cuisine. Since my job was also stress-filled and these were exactly the same criteria that I deemed important for enjoying time off, we made a good traveling team. In our time together our vacations were always great excursions into history, nature, culture and above all good food and drink.
In October of 1992 we flew to Crete for a two week stay in Chania, a small town on Crete’s northern coast. We had a rental car for part of the time that we were there and undertook several excursions, driving along the coast to Heraklion, up into the White Mountains and across the island to the southern coast, and we also made a trip by ferry across the Sea of Crete to the island of Santorini. One of the things both of us were really looking forward to was a visit to the “Palace of Knossos,” which is located near Heraklion. This Bronze Age complex was the cultural and religious center of the Minoan Civilzation and was excavated and unfortunately atrociously restored by Sir Arthur Evans at the beginning of the 20th century. The site, with its dubious restorations, is a basically a tourist trap, a Minoan Disneyland and, although a must visit on most people’s bucket lists, was a big letdown. The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion was a much better investment of our time, even considering that I don’t usually enjoy museums. If one has the time to explore there are many other more interesting archaeological sites on the island to visit. In an earlier post here on the blog (https://nitepoetry.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/an-archaeological-moment-the-mystery-of-thera/) I talked about Santorini (Thera) and its history. Taking the ferry out to the island was an incredible experience and exploring its history and culture was something I had longed to do for many years. I can highly recommend a visit there to everyone.
Chania, where we had booked an apartment, was touristy but not unbearably so. It had a nice beach and if you knew where to look, fairly good restaurants. Crete is a desolately beautiful island that, like the Greek mainland and the Aegean islands, transports you back through the eons. The only things that disappointed me were Knossos and the tzaziki, which was not as garlicky or strong tasting as I would have preferred. And as we wandered around Chania, Heraklion and Rethimnon I couldn’t help but enjoy the island’s cats, who seemed to have license to roam free wherever they pleased. And that is really the purpose of this post, to share three photos of the carefree cats of Crete. Like cats everywhere, they didn’t let anything get in the way of taking care of their cat’s business…
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